Just few days ago, AfricaInterviews published a feature story on some Nigerian motorists using gas to fuel their vehicles as against the traditional premium motor spirit .Read the story here.
According to the motorists,with compressed natural gas, they spend less on fuel – as low as 50% compared to the pump price per liter of petrol or diesel. This arguably may becost-effective, but how safe is this alternative?AfricaInterviews spoke with some experts:
For Mrs Adigun, a fire fighter: “Vehicles using gas is good. But like every good thing, there is always a disadvantage. On the safety side, it is risky. It has high risk because gas is highly combustible; when gas catches fire, it ravages very fast and the level of destruction is very rapid than other petro-chemical substances.”
Continuing Mrs. Adigun said :“I advise all motorists using gas-propelled vehicles to have a fire extinguisher. Fire is an uninvited guest. It would not give you notice of when it is coming. In fact, as part of precautionary measures, not only vehicles using gas, but all vehicles should have an unexpired fire extinguisher in them. All houses using gas for cooking should have fire extinguishers too.I particularly have not started using gas cooker is my home because I do not have a fire extinguisher at home yet .”
“In recent and past times, our station here and elsewhere have gotten distress callsof fire incidents that were gas-related – which we responded to of course. My advice is that motorist using gas should be safety-conscious. Safety first in everything. They should always have fire extinguishers that have not expired in their vehicles and should also know how to use them. Whatever you have that you donot know how to use is as good as not having it at all. Gas is a good friend; it is a fast power source but it can be a very deadly enemy too –in cases of fire outbreak,” she said.
AfricaInterviews also spoke with the Federal Road Safety Corps, the lead agency in Nigeria on road safety administration and maintenance since 1980.
When contacted, the Zonal Commander of FRSC, Ota Zone in Ogun state declined to comment on this development because, “he has not heard of it.”
But a FRSC official spoke to AfricaInterviews on the basis of anonymity. He says:
“Gas-propelled vehicles are safe; however, with bad maintenance culture, it can be very hazardous. You know all these commercial drivers; they can be careless with everything, even their lives. Look at these swollen tires in our trunk. You can imagine someone driving a vehiclewith these tires. Vehicles using gas is no big deal, in fact some vehicles now use electricity – you just plug them in to a light source in your garage and get them charged for use.Good maintenance is the principal thing when it comes to safety.”
Sadly, when AfricaInterviews contacted a handful of these motorists using gas as fuel,three out of every five do not have fire extinguishers.
“We encourage them to have fire extinguishers,” says Daniel Adesola, the marketing manager of Green Gas Limited. We had reported earlier here that Green Gas Limitedboth installs the gas cylinders and sell gas to motorists at pump price along Mowe-Ibaforoute in Ifo Local Government of Ogun state, Nigeria.
Daniel continues: “The cylinders we install in these vehicles are thick and very protective. They are SON standard and we have not heard of any explosions so far.”SON is an acronym for Standard Organization of Nigeria, the body in charge of products’ quality assurance and compliance in Nigeria.
Looking at the high combustibility of gas, users mustbe extra careful to avoid cases of fire outbreaks.Also, gas filling stations like Green Gas Limited in the country would need to go beyond just encouraging clients to buy a fire extinguisher to perhaps,billing a fire extinguisher as part of the installation cost.Organizing periodic trainingsfor clients on safety drills(dos and don’ts) of gas-propelled vehicles would not be a bad idea – one of the don’ts being do not smoke while in transit.
Gas-propelled vehicles may seem cost-effective; the question of how safe is this alternative, still begs for answer. However, precaution is anecessary safety measure; having a fire extinguisher and knowing how to use it to douse fire is very important. Most importantly, we hope the relevant regulatory authorities can look into this and ensure safety first.